US Department of Homeland Security Seeks Solutions to Investigate Blockchain Transactions

While cryptocurrency opens up a whole new realm of financial possibilities, the fact is that this new form of digital asset is being exploited by scammers, cybercriminals and even terrorists. The latter is of extreme concern and urgency for governments and law enforcement agencies all around the world – and rightly so. This is mainly why just recently it was decided in the G20 summit that nations would collaborate in order to regulate better the crypto industry.

Now, another indication for the grave consideration that governments ascribe to digital currencies has emerged, this time from the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

The DHS has released a presolicitation invitation for “interested parties” to partake in a discussion regarding topic areas in an attached document. Interestingly, one of these topic areas is entitled “Blockchain Applications for Homeland Security Forensic Analytics.”

Why and what precisely does the DHS invite interested parties to develop and share? According to the topic’s description in the document:

A key feature underlying these newer blockchain platforms that is frequently emphasized is the capability for anonymity and privacy protection. While these features are desirable, there is similarly a compelling interest in tracing and understanding transactions and actions on the blockchain of an illegal nature. To that end, this proposal calls for solutions that enable law enforcement investigations to perform forensic analysis on blockchain transactions.

If so, the DHS acknowledges the merits of blockchain technology, at least when it comes to anonymity and privacy; yet, the DHS also recognizes that these exact advantageous attributes could also be used by nefarious players who might (and factually do) employ this technology for unlawful activities. The DHS, therefore, invites organizations and individuals to submit ideas or systems that would enable government agencies to investigate efficiently blockchain transactions.

Fascinatingly, the document identifies specifically next to Bitcoin – which is the obvious choice as the largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization and volume – also the altcoins Zcash and Monero. It isn’t really clear why the DHS mentions particularly these digital coins; but perhaps in the case of Monero, it is due to North Korea’s malicious involvement with it.

Anyhow, interested parties that are interested in answering the DHS’s invitation can submit their proposal to Tanisha Walcott at tanisha.walcott[at]hq.dhs.gov.